Hinton v. Ohio Department of Health and Human Service/Department of Job and Family Services et al
Memorandum Opinion: Plaintiff's application to proceed IFP is granted (Doc. No. 2 .) This action is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1915(e). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1915(a)(3), an appeal from this decision could not be taken in good faith. (Related Doc # 1 ). Judge Sara Lioi on 9/30/2016. (P,J)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
OHIO DEPT. OF HEALTH AND
HUMAN SERVICES, et al.,
CASE NO. 5:16-cv-1749
JUDGE SARA LIOI
Pro se plaintiff Gwendolyn Hinton filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
Ohio Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Jobs and Family Services, Child
Protective Services, Akron Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Gregory Lawrence Long,
Attorney Orlando J. Williams, Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine, the United States
Department of Justice, and the Akron Police Department. In the complaint, plaintiff alleges her
child was removed wrongfully from her custody in 2008, and placed with his father, Gregory
Long. Her repeated attempts to regain custody have failed. She seeks injunctive relief and
Plaintiff also filed an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. (Doc No. 2). That
application is granted.
Plaintiff claims Child Protective Services removed her son from her home in January
2008 due to allegations of child abuse. He was placed with his father, defendant Long. Plaintiff
was cleared of the charges, but the child remained with his father. She asserts the child should
have immediately been returned to her custody when she was cleared of the charges. Her
attempts to regain custody through the state courts have been fruitless. She contends Long and
his family have interfered with her custody of the child, visitation, and telephone calls. She also
alleges they abuse and neglect the child. She asserts claims for denial of her fundamental right to
custody of her child, violation of her right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment, and her
right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. She also
asserts several claims based on illegal, corrupt, and biased judgments, which the Court liberally
construes as arising under the Due Process Clause.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364,
365, 102 S. Ct. 700, 70 L. Ed. 2d 551 (1982) (per curiam) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520, 92 S. Ct. 594, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652 (1972)), the Court is required to dismiss an in forma
pauperis action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, or if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328, 109
S. Ct. 1827, 104 L. Ed. 2d 338 (1989); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196, 1198 (6th Cir. 1990);
Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996). A claim lacks an arguable basis
in law or fact when it is premised on an indisputably meritless legal theory or when the factual
contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. A cause of action fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted when it lacks plausibility in the complaint. Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 564, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007).
A pleading must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader
is entitled to relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868
(2009) (citing Fed. R. Civ. 8(a)(2)). The factual allegations in the pleading must be sufficient to
raise the right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in
the complaint are true. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The plaintiff is not required to include detailed
factual allegations, but must provide more than an unadorned, the defendant unlawfully harmed
me accusation. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A pleading that offers
legal conclusions or a simple recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not meet this
pleading standard. Id. (quotation marks and citation omitted). In reviewing a complaint, the
Court must construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Bibbo v. Dean
Witter Reynolds, Inc., 151 F.3d 559, 561 (6th Cir. 1998).
This is the third case plaintiff has filed in this Court to contest the 2008 removal of her
child by Child Protective Services, and the Juvenile Court’s repeated denial of her requests to
have the child returned to her custody. She filed two prior actions in 2012. See Hinton v.
Teodosio, et al., No. 5:12-cv-1267 (N.D. Ohio Oct. 29, 2012) (Adams, J.); Hinton v. Teodosio, et
al., No. 5:12-cv-1349 (N.D. Ohio Oct. 25, 2012) (Adams, J.). Both cases were addressed on the
merits and dismissed.
The doctrine of res judicata dictates that a final judgment on the merits of a claim
precludes a party from bringing a subsequent lawsuit on the same claim or from raising a new
defense to defeat the prior judgment. Gargallo v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc.,
918 F.2d 658, 660 (6th Cir. 1990). It bars relitigation of every issue actually brought before the
court and every issue or defense that should have been raised in the previous action. Id. The
purpose of this doctrine is to promote the finality of judgments and thereby increase certainty,
discourage multiple litigations, and conserve judicial resources. Westwood Chem. Co., Inc. v.
Kulick, 656 F.2d 1224, 1229 (6th Cir. 1981). A subsequent action will be subject to a res
judicata bar only if there is an identity of the facts creating the right of action and of the evidence
necessary to sustain each action. Id. at 1227 (citations omitted).
Both of these requirements are met in this case. This case is based on the same facts
alleged in the prior two actions and the evidence that would be required to sustain the action is
the same. Plaintiff is therefore precluded from litigating this matter for a third time in federal
The Court notes that res judicata is an affirmative defense that must be raised by the
defendant. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(c); see Haskell v. Wash. Twp., 864 F.2d 1266, 1273 (6th Cir. 1988)
(noting that it is ordinarily error for a district court to raise an affirmative defense sua sponte)
(citations omitted). However, the Supreme Court as well as the Sixth Circuit held that a court
may take the initiative to assert the res judicata defense sua sponte in “special circumstances.”
Arizona v. California, 530 U.S. 392, 412, 120 S. Ct. 2304, 147 L. Ed. 2d 374 (2000); Hutcherson
v. Lauderdale Cnty., Tenn., 326 F.3d 747, 757 (6th Cir. 2003). The “special circumstance”
recognized in Arizona, is when “a court is on notice that it has previously decided the issue
presented.” Arizona, 530 U.S. at 412; see Holloway Constr. Co. v. United States Dep’t of Labor,
891 F.2d 1211, 1212 (6th Cir. 1989) (affirming the district court’s sua sponte assertion of res
judicata where the court had previously addressed the merits of a case based on the same facts).
The doctrine of res judicata applies and plaintiff is barred from re-litigating claims and issues
associated with the removal of her son from her home in 2008.
For all the foregoing reasons, this action is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), an appeal from this decision could not be taken in good faith.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: September 30, 2016
HONORABLE SARA LIOI
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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